BY DENISE DEVEAU, POSTMEDIA NEWS NOVEMBER 28, 2011
Like any business professional on the move, Jamie Rogers likes to network. But for this recruitment specialist at Hatch, a Calgary-based engineering firm, his sphere of influence is a little out of the ordinary.
Rogers is a firm believer that international experience is a terrific advantage in the Canadian workplace. That's why he spends a lot of time working with immigration agencies, colleges and other associations to meet, greet and mentor new Canadians.
His passion for helping immigrants find employment harkens back to the time Rogers spent working abroad after graduating from university.
"That experience gave me real insight into how businesses work out there and the many similarities," he says.
He considers it an important opportunity to find potential talent that might otherwise be over-looked. "There's been a belief that a person needs Canadian experience before they can be hired. But overseas experience is solid. The language and cultural differences are easy to overcome if you have the credentials."
Tapping into this work pool is quickly becoming a business imperative. According to Lynn M. Merrithew, corporation relation liaison for the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, 24,000 new Canadians from 120 countries arrive in Alberta each year.
"That's a large number. And given the trends - older workers retiring, lower birthrates, etc. - we have to depend on immigration to sustain our corporate growth here," Merrithew says.
This is far from being a local phenomenon. Teresa Gonzalez, director, gateway for international professionals at Ryerson University's G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education in Toronto, says "immigrants are expected to account for all of Canada's labour force growth this year.
For that reason, access to this pool of talent has become a pressing issue for employers."
The challenge for many employers lies in knowing where to find the right qualifications and talent for the job.
Rogers says he likes to work with organizations such as CCIS and Bow Valley College, which offer a range of networking, professional development and placement services designed to encourage business leaders to connect with new immigrants.
"These programs are a great tool for anyone in HR staffing," Rogers says.
New Canadians can also help themselves enormously by put-ting themselves in the networking picture and working on building "soft skills" to augment their credentials, Gonzales says.
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